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Ejercito del Aire, April 27, 2020 - In the midst of a pandemic, our mechanical specialists do not stop working to get all the systems ready for Operation Balmis.
Sergeant Daniel Cecilio Luque, thirty-three years old, fourteen of them in the Air Force, starts each day in the 48th Wing (Ala 48) with a motto, "how can I help so that everything can improve".
Under this premise, this flight mechanic, assigned to the 803 Squadron of the 48th Wing, prepares daily the Super Puma helicopters that the Air Force has arranged to collaborate in the fight against the pandemic.
The tasks of Sergeant Luque, who will be a father in a few days, illustrate the preparation of all these men and women in charge of sustaining these aircraft: flight mechanic, rescue crane operator, jump master and cargo supervisor for patients or troops.
Indeed, these 803 Squadron helicopters have recently obtained validation for air transportation of critically infected patients.
“In the case of transporting patients, our function has been to prepare the helicopter to be able to put the patient on a stretcher with various medical equipment. It was necessary to make some flights with the companions of the Logistics Center for Armament and Experimentation (Centro Logístico de Armamento y Experimentación, CLAEX) to verify that all the equipment worked correctly and did not interfere with the flight. For example, something as simple as performing a defibrillator shock on a resuscitation to a patient can affect the safety of the flight and a test is required. ”
They themselves, working side by side with the Aeroevacuation Medical Unit (Unidad Médica de Aeroevacuación, UMAER), have discovered nuances that far from being an anecdote are very important for flight. “For example, when I found out that the weight of the stretcher with a patient was 150 kg. and it had to be loaded into the helicopter. You realize your work. My colleagues at UMAER are great professionals with a great desire to help others”, says Sgt. Cecilio.
This experienced military, with several operations abroad, recognizes that becoming a military comes from his family. "My maternal grandfather was stationed in the Mar de Melilla Company, my paternal grandfather was also a legionary in Melilla, my infant father in the Army and my brother a civil guard", Daniel proudly tells us. But he was thrown by aviation. "I was working with the Eurofighter for two years and now with the Super Puma in a rescue squad. I can't ask for more”.
Now another new task is to fight the spread of the virus. And the work begins with oneself. "There are very meticulous protocols. In a very confined place. Before going to the flight team we have to disinfect ourselves and put on masks and gloves to enter the helicopter. In addition, in the event of an air evacuation of a patient with COVID-19, in my role as a flight mechanic, I must put on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) bacause from the moment in which the medical personnel enter the helicopter, I left the cabin (clean area) to act as cargo supervisor in the cargo compartment (dirty area), previously closing the separation door. This process is essential to maintain the tightness of the crews. ”
At the same time that it prepares to combat the pandemic, the 803 Squadron does not cease its mission. "The unit maintains 100 percent operation by providing search and rescue (SAR) and air evacuation coverage where and when we are needed 24/7"
"We are a great country, in solidarity no one wins us," says Sergeant Cecilio proudly. “That all Spaniards are clear that, even though we are in the worst possible scenario, the military will always answer for them without hesitation. Courage and a lot of strength”.